Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sprouts in nooks and crannies

Last year, one particular kale plant in our garden grew into a tree.  We enjoyed its leaves all winter long and into the next spring.  Through March and April, it started to bolt, but I let it blossom for the bees.  When we pulled it out in May, it was nearly 8 feet tall.

Honey Harvest

In September, we celebrated a huge milestone around here-- our first honey harvest.Our ladies did such a great job producing honey this year that we decided we could take some without harming their winter honey stores.

This was quite a learning process for us.  First, we had to figure out how to get the honey out of the hive.  According to google, a number of methods exist. There's the chemical approach, where one applies a bee repellant to the hive.  Blech.  Totally not appealing to me, as this defeats the purpose of natural/ organic beekeeping.  Alternately, we could buy an expensive bee blower and  blow the bees out.  This was also not appealing, for cost reasons and because it seems unpleasant for the bees.  Some people also just brush bees off each frame, but in general, I'm not a big fan of the bee brush because it aggravates my bees and I'm more likely to get stung.

The method we settled upon employs a device called a "bee escape," which is basically a bee maze in which bees can crawl down, out of the top box, but not back up.  This method works because bees navigate with a set of specific rules.  When they reach a wall or corner, they always travel to the right and follow the wall until they reach a corner.  They never turn left. So, as long as you build a maze with right-leading exits, the idea is that the bees won't leave.  I found some plans online then recruited my favorite carpenter to help me build the bee escape.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Garlic in the Ground

The garlic is in the ground.

 Last year, I planted some heads from the grocery store that were kicking around our garlic bin and crossed my fingers. I did not have great luck.  I'm not sure whether something ate the cloves, or whether they just weren't viable and shriveled up and died, but I don't remember harvesting any garlic.

I splurged this year and ordered $30 worth of seed garlic (1.5 lbs ) from Uprising Seeds, one of my favorite local seed providers.